London – British Shul Bans ‘Tanya’ Saying It’s A Racist Sefer


    London – A synagogue’s decision to abandon a study course after a religious commentary was pronounced “racist” has been criticized as “outrageous” and “spineless” in the latest edition of the shul magazine.

    London’s Hampstead Garden Suburb United Synagogue, one of Britain’s biggest synagogues, discontinued an adult-education class on the Tanya earlier this year, following objections by three senior congregants. The Tanya is an 18th-century philosophic text written by the founder of Lubavitch Chassidism, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi.

    In the current edition of the synagogue magazine, columnist David Lew denounced the decision.

    “We Jews have suffered continuously from censorship and book-burning, usually by the Christians and occasionally self-inflicted.” Mr. Lew writes in his “Moans and Groans” column. “But to find it going on in our own community is truly outrageous, and the victory of the gang of three is bitterly disappointing. The shul’s reaction to the objections of those members was, to say the least, spineless.”

    The protests had come from professor Steve Miller, a former vice-chairman of the synagogue, Vivian Wineman, the senior vice-president of the Board of Deputies, and member Dan Rickman.

    Mr. Wineman said: “The text contains comments about Jewish superiority which we regard as racist and unacceptable. If the local church were running a course which said that gentiles were superior spiritually to Jews, we would think that should not be tolerated.”

    He added: “The Board of Deputies’ slogan is ‘racism isn’t kosher.’ Do we mean that racism isn’t kosher for non-Jews, but all right for Jews?”

    The synagogue had “done well”, he said, “to take a stand and say no. Lubavitchers are nice people, but Lubavitch philosophy has elements which are unacceptable.”

    Prof. Miller explained that he felt a “small section” of the Tanya which talks about non-Jews is “frankly racist and morally objectionable. Whilst I wouldn’t dream of censoring what individual members do, I do feel that the shul should not be sponsoring a course which disseminated the Tanya.”

    But Mr. Lew responded: “The shul was recently littered with posters advertising a communal lunch which depicted Jesus, and I have difficulty understanding the hashkafah [loosely translated as philosophy] which allowed images of a founder of a religion which has caused us constant misery for 2,000 years to be plastered around our premises, yet finds the teaching of a major work of Chassidic philosophy to be offensive.”

    Bernard Taub, the chairman of HGS, would not enter into the conversation of the issue. “The whole thing is dead and buried,” he said.

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    1. This is a difficult issue. On the one hand, we can not throw out our sacred texts just because of some racist ideas, it is akin to throwing out the baby with the bathwater. At the same time, there is no doubt many jews would scream anti-semitism and racism if a local church sponsered a class that, in part, discussed the impurity and inferiority of Jews. This is “not Pashut” as a Rabbi recently said regarding an unrelated issue.

    2. Maybe these three people should ban the Bible as well for being racist. Doesn’t it say something about the Jews being the chosen people and that all nations will be blessed through the Jews?

    3. All the “racist” statements in Tanya are merely quotes from OTHER sources in Chazal, Gemara, etc. The Rebbe himself addressed them in a letter to a protestor, saying basically, “By the way, if you have a problem with the goyim being depicted in the Tanya as problems, just take a look at European Jewish history and all the persecution.”

    4. I agree with the decision of the “Gang of Three.”

      We should not teach that Jews are a superior People; we should teach that we are inferior.

      Here is what the famous gentile writer Mark Twain had to say on the subject of the Jews:

      “…To conclude. – If the statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one per cent. of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of star-dust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way. Properly the Jew ought hardly to be heard of; but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his commercial importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk. His contributions to the world’s list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and abstruse learning are also away out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers.

      He has made a marvellous fight in this world, in all the ages; and has done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself, and be excused for it. The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed, and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other peoples have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished.

      The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?”

      –Mark Twain: Concerning The Jews, Harper’s Magazine, March, 1898.

      • as you have said such;

        you should know that the torah itself tells us we are different and special, as the chosen nation.
        according to your words, we should then stop learning chumish/torah

        may hashem have pity on your soul.

        g-d bless you

    5. As I read the article, a visual image of this gang of three emerged – smug, self-righteous British prigs (look up the word). As with most bannings, this will most likely have the opposite effect i.e. will encourage people who would not otherwise be interested to actually study the text. So ultimately a good thing.

      • Yes, but this whole episode proves that there are some individuals (who are [unfortunately] of Jewish descent), who are not worthy of studying, let alone understanding this holy book and what it’s all about, due to the fact that their soul has been saturated with the Hedonistic culture, and no [good] deeds can be ascribed to their credit!!!

    6. Deepthinker,
      You seem to be very comfortable with your ‘superiority’
      Last time someone decided he was ‘superior’ we ended up with a holocaust.
      Try to ‘think’ before spewing

    7. Where is the “Rabbi” in all of this???!!! Without having any firsthand knowledge of the Synagogue and its membership, I can surmise that there are no differences of opinion whether to “Daven” with the “Sh’kiya” or “Rabeinu Taam”. Nor are there arguments whether to “Carry” with, or without the Eiruv! MR. Lew, [the columnist] had it right when he pointed out that some members’ sensibilities (and sensitivities) are misplaced! We Jews! Yes, the Jewish Nation have suffered (as Jews) from Christianity for the past Two Thousand years. Yes, Ecumenism is very nice! But we can see how much it’s worth! First, the Church, as taken for granted, [blindly] sides with the palestinians in the Israeli-palestinian conflict! Second, one of the major denominations (Baptists??) is actively working (campaigning) for divestment in Israel, or Israeli-held assets. (By extension, that means all Jewish owned Business and properties)!!!

        • Please get ahold of the set of letters from the Rebbe called Igrois Kodesh.
          There you will see how involved the Rebbe was in the development of other non Chabad communities, individuals that later on became influencial, and directed his Chassidim to do likewise.
          For example some chassidic Rebbeim from other groups became Rebbeim at the directive of The Rebbe,
          Rabbi Zlotowitz from artscroll was niskarev through Chabad so you may include all the good publications he puts out and the benefits of the learning in them, Rabbi Senter from the Kof-k Etc etc. Just to name a few, from countless examples throughout the Jewish world

          • It is the attitude of some misdirected followers of the Rebbe ZTZ”L that has created more machlokes in klal yisroel in our time than probably any other factor.

            The needless gum-flapping about there being no yiddishkeit left today (c”v) without the influence of the Rebbe ZTZ”L is annoying to all other shomrai torah u’mitzvos and downright humiliating to the level-headed followers of the Rebbe ZTZ”L.

      • your correction is still nonsensical. my family is the furthest from chassidish, and we are all 3rd generation americans or more, and all shomer shabbos. we are litvish, and had no influence what so ever from lubavitch. its ok to be lubavitch, but stop believing the propaganda that without chabad jews would exist.

    8. Key bit here:
      “Mr. Lew responded: “The shul was recently littered with posters advertising a communal lunch which depicted Jesus, and I have difficulty understanding the hashkafah [loosely translated as philosophy] which allowed images of a founder of a religion which has caused us constant misery for 2,000 years to be plastered around our premises, yet finds the teaching of a major work of Chassidic philosophy to be offensive.” “

      This tells you all you need to know about this alleged “synagogue”.

    9. This is silly. What is next? Should the Siddur, the Talmud, and the writings of Maimonides also be expunged from Jewish education because they contain things a modern liberal might consider “racist” (a 19th century term) or “sexist?”

      I am not inclined to mysticism, and would probably find the Tanya very strange. It is a very influential work, though, and deserves study for that reason alone.

      It should not surprise anyone that attacks on Christianity and Islam for not conforming to modern liberalism will inevitably be turned against Judaism as well.

    10. And to Mr. Weinman I would say: The gentiles can say from today to tomorrow that they’re the superior spiritually. Who cares? As long as we, Jews, know the truth. Such a statement CAN BE TOLERATED AND IT’S NOT RACIST at all, as long as YOU, MR. WEINMAN, KNOW THE TRUTH TOO.

    11. The advisors to the Czar had the same complaint to the Ba’al Hatanya, and the Russian Government backed down and di not ban it.
      These “finer Yidden” are more “machmir” than even the Czar.
      One should investigate their lineage, or perhaps theis grandhildren are not Halachic Jews, as this smacks of their being nogea be’dovor.

    12. Did any of you read the first chapter of Liqutei Sichos of the Tanya? There is a difference between describing the greatness of Jews, and playing down the stature of non-Jews. The Tanya is not like the other texts, in that it does the latter.

      It denies that non-Jews are in the image of G-d, that they are capable of wanting to do good for the sake of being good, that they are of the same sitra achara as the satan, the angel of death and the yeitzer hara. That is well beyond anything others take the gemara to say.

      E.g. the Tanya’s proof-text for this conclusion from Bava Basra 10b is taken by Rav Elachanan Wasserman (with the citation of numerous rishonim) as a discussion of the ills of paganism. A pagan serves his gods in order to glorify himself, to get what he wants out of them. To the Tanya, this is an existential statement about the nature of non-Jews.

      You still have the right to disagree with the synagogue’s decision. But at least be informed about why the Tanya was singled out instead of such knee-jerk responses.


      • You seem to show YOUR lack of knowledge, Likutei Sichos is a series of 40 seforim of sichos of the Rebbe (Rabbi Menachem Mendel), not part of the Tanya.

        Please take a back seat before your do you’re homework.

      • THE A”R Zatza”l does NOT write what you say. what he says is that the essence of the Umos Holam, are from Gimmel Kelipos Hatemeios – a quote from Zohar and Gemara in Bava Basra.

        However, this does NOT reffer to Chasidey Umos Holam, and though the A”R does not discuss this there directly (this, no tbeing the context) it is discussed at great length in other sources. just read the Rebbe ZY”A’s exhortations to encourage among Umos Hoalm the fulfillment of the Sheva Mitzvos, which ensures them becoming Chasidey Umos Holam

      • If you would only read a little bit further you would realize that the nefesh haelokis that every yid has is the koach he has to be moiser nefesh-To give away from himself purley lemaan Hashem.when a goy acts properly HE will definatly become a better person.but he’s still his own metzius.There is nothing racial about saying that goyim are good people.

    13. the 6th lubavitcher rebbe rav yosef yitzchok zy”a wrote: the sefer tanya is the ktores to all the spiritual magaifos (deseases) of the time of ikvesa d’meshicha its letters break all concealments and turn klalah to brocha (curse to blessing) with it yisroel will go to greet moshiach. “a perek tanya brings shefa brocha v’hatzlacha”.

    14. At Mount Sinai when we received the Torah, G-d bestowed us with an extra G-odly soul that the non-jews don’t have.
      Even a 5 year old knows what the Midrash teaches about Go-d offering the Torah to other nations and their refusal to accept it, together with the obligations and extra strenghths we received to be able to fulfill its commandments.
      In other words we were not better or worse as a race, just that we accepted what they didn’t want to accept and we received what we need to keep the Torah and they did not. Nevertheless, since we accept sincere converts from all races we are not racist.
      Any sincere convert gets all this superior qualities that G-d bestowed on us at the Giving of the Torah.

      • The spanish inquisition allowed Jews to convert to christianity. Does that mean they were not racist? (note: I am not saying that Jews are racist, I am simply arguing against your logic for why they are not).

    15. I wonder if Pr. Miller says shlo asani eesha everyday, that is male superiority. Imagine if the Church said that, he would probably not tolerate it. Does he say shifoch chamascha el hagoyim on Pesach? He should not because that directs Hashem’s wrath at the goyim and if the Church would say that he would not tolerate it. Sounds to me to be hippocritical.

      • Rest assured he does not! And I know of a whole host of activities that he can not be accused of, due to their nature of racism or the lack of political correctness!! For example, he never put on Tefillin on Chol Hamoed. (Other days, we’re not so certain that he did, either! (Due to the fact that there are some “Politically Incorrect” verses, inside those “Black Boxes” (Afra L’Pimay)! Not to mention the Talmud, which has such statements that their (prof. and his colleagues) sensibilities are so affected, and it embarrasses them in front of their Goyishe “liberal” sophisticated colleagues!!!

    16. The jews are the least racist. As proven by the view of redemption compared to others.
      1. The cristians preach that the entire world will become cristian, the superior religion.
      2. The moslems claim they will literally kill everyone else.
      3. The Jews are the only people that say “Praise G-d ALL Nations”, all nations (except Amalek), 70 non-jewish nations, will live in peace and harmony with the Jewish people.
      The fact that we are the chosen does not depict racism, as described by others.
      Millions of noah hides, non jews, have no problem with this at all.

    17. micha
      the Liqutei Sichos and the Tanya are two different seforim, by two different Aurthur’s, by saying that they are one you are showing that you are clueless in this matter,

    18. I do not understand why we should ban a book rather than discussing the problematic elements in the book in some kind of mature way. Does this shul assume that all the attendees are so unsophisticated as to be unable to discuss a text which has different assumptions than we have? It is true that we would not want a Church to teach something like the doctrine of supercessionism, but a) would we object if thy did? and b) would we ask them to go and ban books containing such a doctrine? Finally why do we run shuls based on what we expect from Churches? I expect a communion wafer at Church, should I demand these by the kiddush for Chasson Bereshis at my local shul?

      • Yes, you should. (demand such a wafer or cracker @ Kiddush) As a matter of fact, I know a few (Heimishe) companies who have such products on the market. It comes in different varieties (to suit [almost] every taste) It goes very good with herring & Old Weller or Wild Turkey, 101proof. (80pr. has the strength of Mayim Achronim water)!!!

      • I am hesitant to write w/o being 100% sure (esp. since such “brilliant talmidei chachamim” who don’t know the difference between Likutei Sichos and Likutei Amamrim, might pause thier holy learning to “defemd” the truth of Hashems torah) but as bochurim we were told that when the Tanya was first translated into English (in England! by the Socino printing house) they asked the Rebbe about not translating those 4 lines. Obviously the Rebbe knew that Toras Emes does not need to be reformed to fit modern conceptions. After it was printed the Anglo Saxon Jewish newspaper ran a book review on the tanyaq and mentioned those four lines. The response approved by thye Rebbe was that by nature every human being is a self centered egotistical being who intrinsically cares only for himself- Jews and Non Jews alike; however since Hashem gave us a neshamah which is a part of Him, we ahave the G-d given bility to go beyond our nature and be truly selfless.

        • …As there are additional explanations to some other “controversial” passages in the Talmud. One famous explanation to one statement of that nature was rendered at the trial of Mendel Beilis, (which the Czar of Russia himself attended many sessions thereof)! That the Jews all over the world cared more for the well being of each other, than the [general] population of such cities as Leningrad (St. Petersburg) and Moscow cared for each other. The government-approved Rabbi of Russia (on the advice of the Gerrer Rebbe ZTZ”L, whom he met in Marienbad during Court recess) actually proved this theory [as quoted in the Talmud, which the prosecutors, with the help of apostate (meshumodim), ignorant Jews tried to use against the defendant and the Jews in general] by interviewing members of the [attending] press and the local population. The court heard the answers of all the people interviewed, in which they unanimously stated that they wouldn’t care (or offer help) to anyone who lived, not more than a few houses from them, whom they did not know personally!!!

    19. I have no clue what “Lubavitch Rocks” is saying. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t know what he’s saying either! But I do know this: the Tanya is the pivotal work in Chabad philosophy, & it has been attacked many times before. So what? It will continue to sustain us despite imbeciles like these 3 pathetic bullies. But now you know why being Frum, no matter what “kind” of Frum, in the UK is so difficult. They don’t need the Arabs to bother them, these stupid liberals do it for us.

      I too wondered why the Rabbi is silent. Afraid for his job, is he? Is he another spineless British twerp?

    20. There is a problem with saying that Michael Jordan has the kochos to jump like no other man! maybe it’s a terrible thing to say to someone with no legs!!!!!

      There is a problem with saying that Michael phelps can swim better than any man! maybe it’s offensive to someone who can’t swim!!

      What the foolish libs say, is that “different” is terrible, it’s divisive and counter productive!!!

      I was on mivtzoyim (helping another jew do a mitzvah) on chol hamoed sukkos and one of the female workers in JC Penney pushed her coworker towards me to speak to me. The first lady was a goy and the other one was a Jew, the Goy was pushing the Jew to come to me to shake the lulav. I thanked the Goy profusely and explained to both of them the beauty and harmony that occurred. The Jew has a mitzvah to serve Hashem with the Taryag mitzvos, and the Goy’s job is to facilitate us. It’s not about better or worse, superior or inferior, it’s all about different. The fact that a person is the janitor in a shul doesn’t make him inferior to the Rabbi, it makes him different.

      This difference that we have, in that we have a nefesh elokis and that goyim don’t only serves to put more responsibility on us. Mamleches Kohanim is a responsibility.

      The bottom line is that any statement that illustrates a difference can be misconstrued as racist. If you have that sick kind of mind, then may the aibishter have rachmonus on you!!!!!

      The Tanya is not a book that is directed towards Goyim, it is the sefer shel beinonim, a yid can be a beinoni. We were given this koach at matan torah when we said na’aseh venishmah and the goyim said “no thanks!” (ooooops, another politically incorrect story)

      It’s funny that the ainikle of the Alter Rebbe (The Rebbe) and the one who is memalei mekomo is the one who made such a big deal about the sheva mitzvos b’nei Noach?????

      p.s. as a side point, I am a shliach of the Rebbe and I do not approve of the message by the person who said that there wouldn’t be a shomer shabbos without chabad!!! Amoratzus gomur

    21. Three words come to mind SHELO ASANI GOY. Anyone that knows any basic pshat knows we are not downgrading anyone. We are saying thank you Hashem for giving me the privilige to do 613 mitzvos and the rest of the world are only obligated to do 7.

    22. The explanation of the statement in question at the end of perek alef is very well known by anyone that studies even a small bit of chassidus. Basically the vort is that ultimately, although there are exceptions (ie. chasidei umos haolam), goyim do not do anything, including good, purely lishma. There is (almost) always some kind of motive behind it. It might even be a positive motive, but a motive nevertheless.

      A yid, with his nefesh Elokis, has the potential to do a mitzvah completely lishma without any other reason at all.

      By the way, the Alter Rebbe introduced many chiddushim in the way we view with and interact with the world, but everything is always based on maamarei chazal, be it in nigleh or kabbalah. To argue with the Tanya is to argue with Hashem’s Torah.

    23. Judaism is the only religion that is not racist. The Torah teaches us that any non-jew who keeps the sheva mitzvohs will reap rewards in the world to come.
      One does not have to be Jewish to fulfill his G-d given mission.

      However we are definitely blessed to be Jewish. Only Jews have a Chelek Elokei Memal Mamash. We are intrinsically connected to Hashem in ways that a non-jew can never be.

      Thank you Hashem for making me a Jew.

    24. The Tanya says that chasedei umot ha’olam come from klipot noga with some positive spark within. The rest are just from klipot. Unfortunately, many Jews including Chabad shluchim act as though they come from klipot and not even klipot noga!!!

      Let us all behave as though we have true Ahavat Chinam and we will merit the Moshiach coming to us and to all the nations.

    25. the coverage of this incident will probably get more people to learn tanya that wouldn’t before, just to see what the fuss is all about. in those permissive societies, a banned book is the most enticing kind. who knows, i bet some Jews will do tshuva just from learning the “banned” tanya! gam zu letova, and moshiach now!

    26. Putting it in quotation marks doesn’t make it any less racist. And yes, parts of it are vicious and irredeemable. Gentiles have inferior souls. When Gentiles do good it’s only for profit. And so on.

      This isn’t a text revealed by the Almighty. It’s a set of commentaries written by a fallible human being. If the Lubavitchers consider it their Bible, then to Gehennom with them. They’ve decided that a man is more important than the Master of the Universe. I don’t care how long the beard, how black the hat or how pious the Hebrew mouthings of the author or the supporters. The book has terrible flaws. With so much else to read that ennobles the soul instead of degrading it we can and must consign Tanya to the back shelves if not the dustbin.

    27. Nuran: You need help. (To get rid of some hate.)
      Obviously you did not read the posts before yours, for then you might have understood that “The Chosen” is a fact revealed by the Torah thousands of years before the Holy Tanya, including the fact that we have a neshome.
      Also, the Tanya is studied by ALL Chassidim and many litvish.
      If you are Jewish and was once Shomer Shabbat, why not drop by a local chabad house and try get some spiritual uplifting!


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